Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2009 U.S. Senior National Team Trials

The water was roaring and frigid in Durango, Colorado, last week. 5,600 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) pumped through the course as slalom kayakers and canoeists struggled to dance across the waves to the gates...needless to say, as soon as I was into my first practice, I knew that it was going to be a very challenging trials race.
Women from all over the country came to compete for slots on the women's canoe senior national team...making this team means getting a chance to compete in the 2009 World Championships, in La Seu De Urgel, Spain.
I had three days to acclimatize and get used to the big pushy water before race day. When Friday rolled around, I felt ready...and then I got on the course.
Friday was possibly the worst race day of my entire life. I didn't make the moves that I thought I was going to ace. I felt sluggish and frustrated. I left the race Friday afternoon, knowing that if I wanted to make team, I was going to have to turn my race around. And so that is precisely what I did.
Coming into the race Saturday, I had a completely different mindset. I focused on having fun, because I knew that the course of Saturday was even bigger and more challenging that the previous days.
I laid down two solid runs, and brought my position from a not-so-satisfying 4th on Friday, right up to a 1st on Saturday! This hugely helped me boost my race plan, and on Sunday, I landed a 2nd place also, enough to get me on the team!
This race was hugely intense, and slightly melancholy, because I'm very sad about my fellow paddlers who were out there, giving it their all, and didn't quite make it this year. It most certainly was not for lack of trying.
And so, my 2009 season has truly taken off. I'm thrilled to be given the opportunity of competing at such a prestigious event as the World Championships, and eternally grateful to my parents, coaches, friends, and sponsors.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cheat River Race 2009

Dropping off the lip of 18-foot Wonder Falls
The Whitewater Wonder Women in Flight
The Massive Mass-Start

West Virginia. The mountains are lush and green, the rivers are roaring, and the people are friendly.
I was lucky enough to go back to my mountainous home for the Cheat River Race, a mass-start (as in 150 paddlers, mass-start) down the 11 miles of roaring class 3 to 5 rapids on the beautiful Cheat Canyon.
I left Wisconsin on Wednesday night, and arrived in Albright, West Virginia at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, where I immediately put on the canyon for a practice run. It went very well (being my first time down the canyon) and I woke up the next morning to put on and do another run. I rested up for the remainder of Friday, then registered for the race with several other teenage girls, as Team Whitewater Wonder Women. We had a great race, our team finishing 6th over all, our top finisher placing second for Women, myself placing 5th for Women, and our final finisher taking a satisfying 7th.
The next morning some friends and I went over to the Cheat River Narrows for some playboating in the explosive hole at Calamity, which was running so high that many of the other rapids had actually washed out. We had a fun morning, then headed back to Albright to hang out at the festival for a while, before taking off for a run on the Little Sandy and Upper Big Sandy.
It was a fun play run, with some slides and ledge drops, but we were really excited for the next day, when we would run Lower Big Sandy.
Lower Big Sandy was running at a pushy 6 feet 6 inches, but we decided it would be manageable. We put on around 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, and had a fantastic time on the scenic run, which plunges over 270 feet on its' way down to meet with the Cheat Watershed. My favorite drop was Wonder Falls, a beautifull 18-footer, with lots of fun play above and below the falls.
Sunday afternoon we had to head home, but I am so glad to have had such a wonderful expirience. I can't wait for next years Cheat Race!